HORTON, Alfred George
A new biography of Horton, Alfred George appears in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography on this site.
Alfred George Horton was born and educated at Hull, and as a youth became a reporter on the Daily Express newspaper there. Leaving for New Zealand in 1861, he worked for a year or more on the Press, Christchurch. At the end of that time he purchased a small hand-printing plant, and at the age of only 21 took it to Timaru and started a weekly newspaper, the Timaru Herald. This he edited and produced for eight years. He mixed a good deal in the public affairs of the district and took some pride in having persuaded Stafford to contest and win the Timaru parliamentary seat in 1868. For a brief period in the following year Horton represented Timaru town in the Canterbury Provincial Council.
In 1872 he sold out to a partner and went to England. Returning a year or two later he joined a friend named Wilkinson in acquiring the Advertiser newspaper at Thames, where gold mining was bringing an influx of wealth and population. After a couple of years he sold his interest to advantage and purchased the Southern Cross, Auckland, from a company headed by Sir Julius Vogel, which had been in increasing financial difficulties for some time. Soon afterwards the founder and principal owner of the other morning paper, the New Zealand Herald, W. C. Wilson, died. Horton agreed with W. S. and J. L. Wilson, the sons, to amalgamate the businesses under a partnership, the Southern Cross being merged in the Herald and the Weekly Herald in the Weekly News. Horton became the driving force behind the joint enterprise and his financial acumen made him prominent in the business life of Auckland.
Early in the depression of the 1880s he was sent to England by a committee which was investigating the affairs of the Bank of New Zealand. He helped to secure some needed capital, and on his return took part in measures toward reorganisation. For a time he was a director of the Bank of New Zealand Estates Co. and was offered a seat on the board of the bank, but declined it.
From 1890 to his death Horton was a director of the New Zealand Insurance Co. and served two terms as chairman. He was chairman of the local board of the Mutual Life Association of Australasia. As a newspaper proprietor he specially interested himself in keeping up with developments in mechanical plant. He took an early opportunity of introducing web presses, which were said to be the first installed in New Zealand.
In 1864, at Dunedin, Horton married Jessie Haliburton Chisholm by whom he had five sons and one daughter. He died at Parnell, Auckland, on 11 March 1903. One of his sons was Sir Henry Horton.
Horton was an austere man, often gruff in manner, and was more esteemed for his business and financial ability than for his social graces. His latter years were overclouded by rather prolonged ill health.
by Alfred Fearon Grace, Journalist, Auckland.
- Thames Star, 12 Feb 1954.